On the second day after Kashmir’s most prominent resistance leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away, the road to his residence is still dotted with hundreds of paramilitary forces and police. It was Friday — the day of congregational noon prayers and when people visit the grave of the deceased to offer prayers.
But today Geelani’s grave was unreachable: physically and visibly.
“The Fatiha prayers were not offered and nobody was allowed to visit his [Geelani] grave,” a family member told The Kashmir Walla. “We are at home and we don’t know anything about the graveyard today. We heard it was locked.”
Geelani, 91, passed away on Tuesday night at 10:30 pm following a prolonged illness at his home, where he was kept under house detention for most of the last decade. The state officials then imposed a curfew across Kashmir and snapped nearly all lines of communications, except the fluctuating government-owned BSNL networks.
Abdul Rashid, a local resident from the downtown area of Srinagar said that he got to know about Geelani’s death at midnight but right after that the communication was snapped. “We are saddened by the fact that he was our spiritual leader,” he said. “He has an important position in the world and people would have participated in his funeral prayers. It’s unfortunate that people have been locked in their houses. They haven’t been able to be a part of his funeral.”
Rashid added that it was only because the internet and telephone services were snapped due to which nobody, ones who wanted to be a part of his funeral prayers, was able to participate in it.
However, even on the second day it wasn’t easy to reach the graveyard even if people wanted to.
Over 500 meters before Geelani’s residential area at Hyderpora area of Srinagar district, there are two separate checkpoints on the main road. One is led by the Srinagar district police at one end and another by Budgam district police on the other below the flyover. Both are checking people who are driving through the road towards the airport.
The police do not allow people to proceed ahead until someone has to reach the airport, where both the checkpoints, separately, check the air tickets to allow people who are leaving the valley. However, the people coming from the airport side are diverted through a different route to reach the city.
Only a few meters ahead of the flyover is the graveyard where Geelani was buried at dawn on Wednesday by a limited group of people and a heavy contingent of the government forces. Yesterday, some locals were able to visit the grave to offer prayers for the departed soul but the same didn’t happen on Friday.
Today, the fencing of the graveyard had been covered with green curtains to block the view. There are armed paramilitary forces’ personnel standing outside the graveyard. Along the road stretch, more government forces’ personnel are standing with one end of the road permanently shut by barricades. Every street and alley is blocked with concertina wires and yellow plastic barricades to bar the movement of people in and out of the area.
The 12-feet alley leading towards Geelani’s residence — with a board standing at the end reading Rehmatabad Hyderpora — was completely blocked with concertina wire barricades. There were nearly a dozen paramilitary forces’ personnel and a few police vehicles in front and near it.
As per the family member, not all the relatives and friends are able to reach their residence to be with the bereaved family. “Several people call us, on some working numbers, that they are not being allowed to visit,” said the family member.
Not just the Hyderpora but the entire Srinagar city has been under restrictions with heavy deployment of the government forces after Geelani’s death. Geelani’s body was taken for burial nearly at 3:30 am and was buried in the neighborhood graveyard, against the wishes of the family.
Many people from several districts, since yesterday, have been anxiously trying to catch one glimpse of Geelani’s grave and offer prayers. However, neither Geelani’s family nor they could on Friday.